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Allusions to Christianity in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Frequently in literature, allusions are used to emphasize significant images and messages and makes these messages more universal so that the audience can have an improved perception of them in their minds. They will then realize how the work is a reflection of principles that pertain to humanity. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," several allusions are made to the Bible and Christianity. It tells the story of a mysterious old sailor, referred to as the "Mariner," who has recently embarked on a crazy expedition. The Mariner stops a guest at a wedding and shares his story with him, much to the dismay of the guest, because he was impatient and wanted to attend the festivities. The Mariner had eyes that were somewhat magnetic because the guest could not gain the strength to just ignore him. The mariner tells the man his story, and at the end, the man realizes that the mariner was not wasting his time, and that his story was beneficial to him because it taught him to be more prudent with the decisions that he makes in the future: "A sadder and wiser man he rose the morrow morn." The conclusion in itself embodies a key principle of Christianity- the sharing of one's own knowledge and experiences can help lead to the improvement of the lives of others. Furthermore, Coleridge also employs several other references to Christianity, such as the guilty feelings that people have after executing immoral acts and what these individuals must undergo in order to be forgiven. The mariner's trip begins on a stormy day. It starts to snow and the sailors get stuck in ice. Adding to this dilemma, it is very misty as well, making it hard to see. Soon, an albatross appears that they "hailed in God's name." The albatross was seen as a good luck charm because the ice split, and the wind starting blowing. Unfortunately, the mariner decides to shoot the Albatross with his crossbow. The sailors become livid with the mariner because of his senseless action, after they are initially happy because they believed that the bird was responsible for the fog. He is seen as the ultimate sinner for killing something so innocent and helpful. The killing of the albatross is representative of a sin against God, since it was one of his creations. This is because the mariner clearly had malicious intent when he shot the albatross and he understood that it was wrong: "And I had done a hellish thing, and it would work 'em woe." There are usually always consequences for senseless actions, and this situation is no exception. The mariner is forced to wear the dead albatross on his neck as a form of punishment. His negative attitude towards nature is another form of disrespect towards God: "slimy things did crawl with legs upon the slimy sea." Although natures creatures may appear to be "slimy" to him, others will not view them in the same light. The mariner's initial ignorance is highlighted through these thoughts. One of the greatest principles of Christianity is the ability of a person to make a conversion into an improved human being after wrongdoing. By repenting one's sins, the person can eventually be forgiven. Gradually, this principle becomes relevant to the mariner, as he soon develops a greater appreciation for the nature that surrounds him. When he describes how "A spring of love" gushed from his heart, he is talking about this newfound appreciation. He then decides to pray. Because of his transformation, the albatross falls from his neck. When the ship sinks and he is rescued by the pilot, Coleridge is emphasizing how God forgives him and wants to give him a second chance. The mariner's confession to the hermit is his form of penance, which he must share with others so that they do not make the same mistakes that he has made in his own life. His memories will forever haunt him, so in way he is his own internal prison, which is by far the worst form of punishment, and God knows this. Ultimately, by comparing the events in this poem to the principles of Christianity, the audience can gain a better understanding of what the piece is saying about the nature of human beings. The mariner particularly decides to retell his story to people at festive events such as weddings because he wants them to appreciate every component of life and wants them to avoid feelings of egoism. Individuals should make conscientious decisions because in the end, every decision will have a consequence, and it is up to each person to determine whether or not the consequence is a positive one or a negative one.

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